Nikon Df Review

Design

Nikon Df Review - Design

 

Nikon Df side angled

With the Df borrowing most of its internal technology from Nikon's various parts bins, the biggest talking point about the Df is unquestionably going to be the look and feel of the thing.

There's no question that the Df has been inspired by Nikon SLRs of old, with the same angular pentaprism and leatherette-clad finish on either side of it that we've seen on the likes of the F3 and FM2/FE2. Other features and design touches that link back to the Df's heritage include the slender grip of the F3, ridged dials, the high position of the shutter button as well as reverting back to Nikon's older upright and thinner logo on the front of the pentaprism too.

The Df's a nice looking camera, but for me it doesn't quite have the same instantaneous charm that Fujifilm has managed to pull off with the X100S. I think this can be attributed to a couple things, the first being its comparatively chunky proportions.

While I accept that Nikon has had to shoehorn in a host of modern DSLR technology inside the Df, it still feels just a bit too big, especially when you pop it alongside a classic Nikon that its designed in-part to emulate, being both noticeably taller and fatter than an FE2, as well as being a bit lankier than an F3.

 

Nikon Df top panel

 

Weather sealing

The other issue is the finish. With the same weather-sealing as a D800 and a magnesium alloy chassis, there's no question its a durable piece of kit that's well made, but it just doesn't translate somehow once in the hand. One of the boasts is that this is the lightest full frame DSLR from Nikon yet, but I think I and quite a few other photographers would have sacrificed this for something a little more dense in feel - it just feels too light for its proportions somehow.

This is underlined with the choice of lens on the front - while zooms like the 20-35mm f/2.8 I tried balanced OK, the Df is more at home with primes on the front.

The slender and squat handgrip feels a little uncomfortable at first, but over time shooting with the Df I found it quite comfortable, though the textured finish is curiously different to that employed on the rear for the thumb rest.

It's just speculation but the material used on the front is a little more aesthetically pleasing in appearance compared to the slightly more grippy, more modern finish at the rear – it was perhaps thought this was worth the compromise for a more traditional look from the front.

 

Nikon Df rear control layout

Control layout

The range of additional features and controls a modern DSLR brings has naturally resulted in extra buttons and switches required on the exterior of the body, but Nikon has been rather sensitive in their positioning. Those that have used a Nikon DSLR in the past should be at home with the layout, while the manual controls for ISO, exposure compensation, exposure mode (M, S, A, P) and shutter speed are obvious enough.

While shutter speeds increase in 1EV increments, if a more precise exposure is required there's a dedicated 1/3 Step setting where shutter speed can be entered via the rear control dial – just as you would any other modern-day Nikon DSLR.

If you're in aperture priority, you can set the aperture via your lens' aperture ring or via the front command dial. Angled roughly 90 degrees differently compared to other Nikon DSLRs, its at first a little uncomfortable to adjust, but I found that after shooting with it like this it soon become second nature.

The Nikon Df is available in two colour schemes - silver or all-black, and out of the two I have to say that the matte black finish is the more successful. While they'll be those who prefer the silver, it somehow manages to look a little more painted on and dare I say it, plasticky.


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Price as reviewed

with 50mm lens
£2,749.99

Scores

Scores
Design 17/20
Image Quality 19/20
Performance 18/20
Value 16/20
Features 18/20
Overall Score 88%

User Score